We Bid You Hope at the Allerheiligen Waterfalls

The trail along the waterfalls

The Allerheiligen (All Saints) Waterfalls, located near the town of Oppenau, are the largest natural waterfalls in the northern Black Forest region of Germany. Here, a brook cascades down a steep porphyry gorge, surrounded by towering rock faces that reach a height of 100 meters. The water descends a total of 66 meters, cascading down a sequence of seven steps.

For ages, the waterfall was under the ownership of the All Saints Abbey. Today, the latter stands in ruins, nestled just a short distance up the mountain.

An official exploration of the gorge took place not before the 19th century, and in 1840 the predecessor of today’s waterfall trail consisting of stairs and bridges was built.

The area surrounding the waterfalls and the abbey attracts many visitors when the weather is pleasant. On peaceful days, however, the ambiance becomes enchanting, creating a truly magical experience.

The Allerheiligen (All Saints) Waterfalls

Allerheiligen Abbey was established in the 12th century at this location above the falls. The place remained difficult to access until the 19th century, prompting the question: why was it built here specifically?

Undoubtedly, the presence of the waterfall played a role. Those well-versed in the subject understand that monasteries were often erected near ancient pagan sites of power and worship.

Curiously, the area surrounding the waterfall offers no evidence of such a historical connection.

The Allerheiligen (All Saints) Abbey

And then we find it after all, the clue. Namely, in the form of a war memorial erected in 1925, in honor of the fallen of the First World War.

I frequently encounter war memorials near old places of power, and this particular one even bears a striking resemblance to an ancient temple. While it may not be immediately apparent to most visitors, the connection between the Allerheiligen site here and ancient paganism is subtly intertwined within the design of the monument.

However, the inexplicable correlation between pagan sacred places and modern war memorials remains a mystery to me.

The War Memorial

The inscription “Wir heissen euch hoffen” (possible translations: we bid you hope/we invite you to hope/we urge you to hope) graces the base of the statue of a warrior carrying a shattered sword.

Wir heissen euch hoffen / We vbid you hope

“Wir heissen euch hoffen” concludes Goethe’s poem “Symbolum,” which he composed around 1815 for the Weimar Masonic lodge of Anna Amalia zu den drei Rosen. In the language of the church, the term “Symbolum”, when translated from the Neo-Latin, means “Creed”


(freely translated from German)

The Mason’s Walk,
It resembles life,
And his endeavor,
It resembles the actions
Of the people on earth.

The future covers
Pain and happiness
Step by step to the gaze;
But undaunted
We press forward

And heavy and distant
Hangs a mantle,
With awe, silently
The stars rest above
And below the graves.

Look at them more closely
And behold, there arise
In the bosom of heroes
Wandering shivers
And severe feelings.

But calling from beyond
The voices of the spirits,
The voices of the masters:
Do not fail to practice,
The forces of good!

Crowns are winding here
In eternal silence,
Which shall with abundance
Reward those who do!
We bid you hope.


(original in German)

Des Maurers Wandeln,
Es gleicht dem Leben,
Und sein Bestreben,
Es gleicht dem Handeln
Der Menschen auf Erden.

Die Zukunft decket
Schmerzen und Glücke
Schrittweis dem Blicke;
Doch ungeschrecket
Dringen wir vorwärts

Und schwer und ferne
Hängt eine Hülle,
Mit Ehrfurcht, stille
Ruhn oben die Sterne
Und unten die Gräber.

Betracht’ sie genauer
Und siehe, so melden
Im Busen der Helden
Sich wandelnde Schauer
Und ernste Gefühle.

Doch rufen von drüben
Die Stimmen der Geister,
Die Stimmen der Meister:
Versäumt nicht zu üben,
Die Kräfte des Guten!

Hier winden sich Kronen
In ewiger Stille,
Die sollen mit Fülle
Die Tätigen lohnen!
Wir heißen euch hoffen.

The memorial with its mystery, the falls with their unceasing cascade, and the ruins with their silent tales, subtly intertwine to create a unique, and somewhat enigmatic, visitor experience.

Undoubtedly, the allure of Allerheiligen reaches beyond the visible and tangible, beckoning us to explore deeper realms of understanding and contemplation.

The invitation “Wir heissen euch hoffen” resonates as a universal credo, standing as a beacon of hope that endures, just like the waterfalls and the ruins, through the passage of time.

Video & Map

Video: Watterfalls, Abbey and War Memorial
Allerheiligen near the town of Oppenau

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